Climate impacts of super-giant oilfields go up with age, Stanford scientists say

From Eurekalert

Public Release: 17-Jul-2017

Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences

Even oilfields aren’t immune to the ravages of time: A new study finds that as some of the world’s largest oilfields age, the energy required to keep them operating can rise dramatically even as the amount of petroleum they produce drops.

Failing to take the changing energy requirements of oilfields into account can cause oilfield managers or policymakers to underestimate the true climate impacts, Stanford scientists warn.

The new findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, have implications for long-term emissions and climate modeling, as well as climate policy. “Current climate and energy system models typically don’t explore the impacts of oil reservoir depletion in any detail,” said study co-author Adam Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. “As oilfields run low, emissions per unit of oil increase. This should be accounted for in future modeling efforts.”

 

An accurate estimate

 

In the new study, Stanford postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Masnadi worked with Brandt to apply a new software tool developed at Stanford for calculating greenhouse gas emissions to oilfields around the world that have produced more than 1 billion barrels of oil over their lifetimes, sometimes called “super-giant” oilfields.

Conventional greenhouse gas estimates calculate emissions through a kind of economic reverse engineering, whereby an economic index is used to convert the monetary value of an oilfield’s final products – whether it be processed oil, natural gas or petroleum-based products – into greenhouse gas emissions. “This top-down approach for converting economic values into environmental and energetic costs misses a lot of underlying information,” Masnadi said.

What’s more, many studies look at data from only a single point in time, and as a result capture only a snapshot of an oilfield’s greenhouse gas emissions. But the Stanford scientists argue that in order to paint the most accurate picture of an oilfield’s true climate impacts – and also have the best chance of reducing those impacts – it’s necessary to assess the energy costs associated with every stage of the petroleum production process, and to do so for the oilfield’s entire lifetime.

Developed in Brandt’s lab at Stanford, a software tool called the Oil Production Greenhouse gas Emissions Estimator (OPGEE) is designed to do just that. For any given oilfield, OPGEE performs what’s known as a lifecycle assessment, analyzing each phase of the oil production process – extraction, refinement and transportation. It then uses computer models to calculate how much energy is consumed during each step. From this, scientists can calculate precisely how much greenhouse gas each oilfield emits.

“This bottom-up type of analysis hasn’t been done before because it’s difficult,” Masnadi said. “For this study, we needed over 50 different pieces of data for each oilfield for each year. When you’re trying to analyze an oilfield across decades, that’s a lot of data.”

Unfortunately, most oil companies are reluctant to release this type of temporal data about their oilfields. The Stanford researchers developed two workarounds to this problem. First, they gathered data from places where transparency laws require oil production data be made publically available. These included Canada, Norway and the U.K., and the state of California in the U.S. Secondly, the pair conducted a deep data mine of the scientific literature to seek out clues about oilfield production levels in published studies.

 

Diminishing returns

 

In the end, the pair ended up with data going back decades for 25 globally important super-giant oilfields. Applying OPGEE to this group, the scientists found that for many of the super-giant oilfields, oil production declined with time as the wells were depleted, but the energy expended to capture the remaining oil went up.

“The more oil that is extracted, the more difficult it becomes to extract the oil that remains, so companies have to resort to increasingly energy-intensive recovery methods, such as water, steam or gas flooding,” Masnadi said.

Making matters worse, oil recovered through such methods has to undergo more intense surface processing to filter out the excess water and gas. In the latter case, this can result in an excess of carbon dioxide and methane gas that is typically eliminated through burning – a process called “flaring” – or venting into the atmosphere.

“We can show with these results that a typical large oilfield will have a doubling of emissions per barrel of oil over a 25-year operating period,” Brandt said.

 

Win-win

 

How to stop this harmful cycle? One way is through tougher government regulations that force companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or risk having to lower production. This has been shown to work at two Canadian offshore fields, Hibernia and Terra Nova, where regulations have sharply lowered greenhouse gas emissions by limiting oil production in fields where gas is wasted through flaring and venting.

“Better regulation is certainly part of the answer, but a more progressive solution is to encourage energy companies to draw the energy they need to operate their aging oilfields from renewable sources such as solar, wind or geothermal,” Masnadi said.

He cites the example of the California-based company GlassPoint Solar, which uses solar-powered steam generators to reduce the gas consumption and carbon emissions of its oilfields by up to 80 percent.

Done right, such solutions could end up being a win-win for industry and the environment, the Stanford scientists said, by helping oil companies drive down energy costs while simultaneously reducing their climate impacts.

The OPGEE tool Brandt’s team developed has already been adopted by the California Air Resources Board to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels, but Brandt thinks it could also prove useful to industry.

“This can serve as a stepping stone toward lifecycle management of field emissions,” Brandt said. “Companies could plan operations to maximize production while minimizing emissions.”

###

Funding for the study, titled “Climate impacts of oil extraction increase significantly with oilfield age,” was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Ford Motor Co.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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116 thoughts on “Climate impacts of super-giant oilfields go up with age, Stanford scientists say

  1. this harmful cycle

    Prove this assertion. Otherwise……….. your entire study is a piece of junk.
    Cheers.
    Heh.

    • It is a load of junk. Anybody reading the study might be falsely led to believe that carbon dioxide is a harmful pollutant rather than a gas that is essential for all life.

      • The problem with CO2 is not if its a pollutant or not it is the fact that it is a greenhouse gas. By the way, I wonder if you could let me know why 90% of glaciers around the world are melting, on average it is around 40% of their mass over the last 50 years, source American Geological Survey. I look forward to you response. I have supplied a source so if you refute the validity of my source please provide one of your own. Thank you.

      • Steve: Re CO2 and glaciers. Does your source offer PROOF that CO2, in and of itself is responsible for the melting of the glaciers over the last 50 years? And is that melting (as you intimate) that is caused by CO2 as well as, or instead of whatever melted them in the past? All you’ve come up with is rubbish.

      • Yes my source does, visit here website. The more fossil fuels burnt the greater the amount of co2 goes into our atmosphere, agree? Co2 is a greenhouse gas, agree? I say greenhouse because if we didn’t have greenhouse gases in our atmosphere all the heat that radiates off the planet would disappear into space. So more co2 the less heat gets out, its very simple. So … 90% of all glaciers around the planet are melting. You can also SEE photos on the internet …. seeing is believing? So if its not a warming planet …. what is causing it, let me know and please provide a source for any of your assertions.

      • It is also the biggest duh. They could have given me merely half of what they paid Stanford and I could have told them, over time it takes more energy to extract oil from an oil field.

      • Steve, glaciers have been retreating in all parts of the world since before the industrial age.

      • Yes my source does, visit here website. The more fossil fuels burnt the greater the amount of co2 goes into our atmosphere, agree?

        Yes.

        Co2 is a greenhouse gas, agree?

        Yes.

        I say greenhouse because if we didn’t have greenhouse gases in our atmosphere all the heat that radiates off the planet would disappear into space.

        Oh dear. All the heat that radiates off the planet DOES disappear in to space, regardless of green house gases or not. Might |I suggest a trip to a library and some basic English and physics books?

        So more co2 the less heat gets out, its very simple.

        No, it’s actually horrendously complicated.Unlike a greenhouse, there is no roof on top of the atmosphere. Where the CO2 is, where the heat is, and what temperature differentials exist determine net heat loss. Irrespective of CO2 levels.

        And even if your naive analysis were true, this is where ‘simple’ doesn’t cut it. You have to do Big Sums. the actual warming effect would be about half a degree for every doubling, so you have missed the whole AGW plot.

        Its the FEEDBACKS dear, the IPCC has to amplify the very very tiny, and possibly zero – effect of CO2 to make it of any interest at all and the SCIENCE such as it is, is all about adding in positive feedback to make the graphs look scary.

        Unfortunately if you make the climate that sensitive to temperature changes – not to just CO2 mind – to ANY temperature change, its pretty plain to see that it would be so unstable life as we know it could not have developed. Every major volcano would trigger an ice age or worse. Every single orbital varataion would boil te planet dry.

        So … 90% of all glaciers around the planet are melting.

        No dear. 100% of them are.

        You can also SEE photos on the internet …. seeing is believing?

        I saw a picture of a three headed dog on the Internet. I didn’t believe it though. You must be gullible.

        So if its not a warming planet

        Well at the moment it isn’t. Its cooling slightly. Barely significant, but this year is cooler than last year.,

        …. what is causing it,

        Why must anything cause it?
        See a flag flying in te breeze. It flaps this way, and that way. What is causing it? The breeze!

        The sun shines on the earth. massive turbulent flows of air and water move around the planet. Sometimes it flaps this way, sometimes that. So what?

        let me know and please provide a source for any of your assertions.

        Oooh. You learnt that trick from the Big Liars over at ‘skepticalscience’ didn’t you, before you set out to become a Keyboard Warrior Fighting For The Planet.

        I haven’t asserted anything, other than is asserted by any climate scientist. Merely pointed out that they completely ignored turbulent convective flow in their calculations and got the sign and magnitude of the feedback in their equations wrong.

        Otherwise we are in complete agreement.

      • Steve, so what if it’s a greenhouse gas? That doesn’t prove that it is harmful. Neither have you proven that a few degrees of warming is a bad thing. Especially considering the fact that for 99% of the Earth’s history temperatures have been 5 to 10C warmer than it is at present.

      • I see that Steve is demonstrating the level of scientific knowledge that most trolls posses.
        CO2 is rising.
        Glaciers are claimed to be melting.
        Ergo, it is proven that CO2 is going to kill us all.

      • Steve, any glaciers that are retreating are doing so because the amount of mass added by snowfall each year is less than the amount that melts each year. I didn’t think such a basic scientific idea needed to be explained to anybody.

        Now as to why this imbalance exists there are lots of possibilities. Snowfall could be decreasing due to any of a number of reasons; circulation changes, land use changes, heck it is even possible that pollution reduction measures have meant fewer ‘dust’ particles for nucleation centers, etc. Melting could be increasing due to higher temperatures which could be caused by any number of reasons; circulation changes, land use changes, continued recovery from the last ice age, etc.

    • It’s worse than we thought. It must be worse then we thought, because if it is better than we thought, we don’t get more money.

    • Please Sir (Chasmod) … Er … Maam !

      But don’t we need those chemicals that come along with that energy, to make plastic stuff, such as the insides of a Tesla for example.

      We just gotta get those chemical molecules out of the ground, because we can’t get enough of them out of the air.

      Nobody is aloud to put enough hydrocarbon molecules into the atmosphere to keep supplying Monsanto with raw materials to make Round -Up, and other useful products like Sacharine and Skydrol and Asparin and Nylon! so it costs a little more; well Jerrybrown just increased the gas tax by 63 cents so now those ancient mega-oils, are dirt cheap.

      g

  2. Claim :”Done right, such solutions could end up being a win-win for industry and the environment, the Stanford scientists said, by helping oil companies drive down energy costs while simultaneously reducing their climate impacts.”
    Rea;ity: “Done thus, such solutions woould end up helping industries drive up energy costs and maximize profits at the expense of the consumers who would pay through the nose, while having no impact on the climate or environment.”

  3. ” A new study finds”

    Anyone involved in production knows opex generally goes up with time and that production generally declines.
    This is only “new” to these folks. Fake news. Junk science.

    • This was exactly what I was thinking! Everyone who has worked on the production end of the industry for the last 100 years or so has known that as fields age, it takes more energy and work to get what’s left out of the ground. Duh! That’s the way the world works, it’s not a perpetual motion machine!!!

      I’ll bet the authors of the study would be amazed to find out what “secondary recovery” and “tertiary recovery” mean, and even more amazed to find out that the industry has been engaged in these practices for many decades.

      So what they’re saying is “when you do more work, you use energy, and that makes CO2, = EVERYONE WILL DIE! WAAAAAHHHH!!!”

      Yeah, brilliant guys. Just brilliant.

    • Exactly. These “studies” are so often by people who have no technical background, or even genuine interest, in the industry under discussion. But they usually just ‘know’ that they are bad for the environment or bad for something yet to be determined.

      This is exemplified by the statement

      “This top-down approach for converting economic values into environmental and energetic costs misses a lot of underlying information,” Masnadi said.”

      They commonly base their attacks on industry on an unstated assumption that the traditional technical and economic analysis (in which they are not trained) does not capture a special knowledge to which they are party. This special calculus by which they operate is generally not well defined, allowing them to make up their value system as they go along. The only certainties seem to be things like ‘oil companies and chemicals are bad, anything else which loudly opposes them and uses the words green/sustainable is good.’

  4. …. a more progressive solution is to encourage energy companies to draw the energy they need to operate their aging oilfields from renewable sources such as solar, wind or geothermal,” Masnadi said.

    Better leave wind out of it, Mr. Masnadi.

    …. Ironically and paradoxically the use of wind farms therefore actually increased CO2 emissions …..

    (Source: Ruth Lea, Electricity Costs: the Folly of Windpower http://www.civitas.org.uk/content/files/electricitycosts2012.pdf )

    Solar, too. It’s worse than wind.

    (youtube — Ozzie Zehner)

    At ~9:40 All other CO2 reduction technologies are significantly more cost effective than solar.

    ***********************

    Mr. Masnadi’s demonstrated ignorance of the subject matter in general makes it difficult to take anything he writes here seriously.

    • Iowa is now powering its grid with wind, around 40%, why? Because its cheaper and the source of its energy does not require burning fossil fuels. Even Texas, yes Texas, is ramping up the amount of energy from wind, why? Because its cheaper. This bloke Ozzie Zehner is just another academic growing rich off grant money, get a real job Ozzie!

      • Iowa is now powering its grid with wind, around 40% …

        That’s really misleading. Here’s a link from 2015. The numbers have changed somewhat since then but not that much. Note also that the author is obviously a supporter of renewables. He doesn’t seem to be trying to fudge the numbers in either direction.

        … 28.5 percent of the power contracts signed by Iowa utilities are with wind generators.

        But Iowa does not have its own grid; it is part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) grid region, which includes all or part of 13 other states. The electrons on the MISO grid cannot be divided into wind electrons and coal electrons. Every load (user of electricity) on the grid is, physically speaking, consuming the same mix of energy. Currently the MISO grid gets 5.7 percent of its energy from wind and, thus, so does Iowa.

        Iowa is using the other states as the equivalent of battery backup. If every state on the grid tried to do the same, the system would come crashing down in much the same way as Australia’s.

      • Steve
        July 19, 2017 at 1:01 am

        Iowa is now powering its grid with wind, around 40%, why? Because its cheaper and the source of its energy does not require burning fossil fuels. Even Texas, yes Texas, is ramping up the amount of energy from wind, why? Because its cheaper…….

        How can it be cheaper when you have to pay for the existing systems as well (for back-up), whether they are in use or not. When the legacy systems are not in use 24/7 as originally envisaged they are obviously less efficient and add more costs to the total. Because of the back-up problem all “renewables” are EXTRA costs unless they are for specific off grid use which is their only legitimate use.

        The taxpayer subsidies and government mandates forcing the grid to accept “renewable” energy provide an opportunity for carpetbaggers to make a profit at that point in the cycle. This is the reason, not because it is cheaper overall.

        SteveT

      • Texas and Iowa are ramping up the wind power, because they have wind and they get significant tax credits from the Federal government and from other states that mandate their utilities use X% wind power, so the utilities pay an exorbitant amount compared to fossil fuel sources to meet the mandates. Without the subsidies the windmills would go away.

        Iowans aren’t dumb. The entire state is run off of coal and nuke power. The wind power is all sold elsewhere.

      • I should also point out, here in Texas, the utilities all have a plan where I can pay about 25% more to get 50 – 100% of my power from allocated wind and solar sources – so I can assuage my guilt. If it were so cost effective the utilities in Texas with all that wind power in the panhandle, would be offering me a discount to take renewable power.

    • Scientists should not offer prescriptions. That takes them beyond their expertise and we should not take anything they say seriously.

      The trouble is that the definition of ‘expert’ is muddied.

      One type of expert is defined by performance. link Such an expert can reliably do things. This expert is a grand master chess player, a surgeon, or a member of the Berlin Philharmonic, or a civil engineer designing a bridge.

      The other type of expert has studied a lot and may have one or two PhDs and many publications. This is the type of expert described by Philip Tetlock. link These experts are no better at predicting the outcome of events than are dart-throwing monkeys. link

      The trouble is that people mistake the one kind of expert for the other. How does one tell the difference. It’s easy. The expert performers operate safely within boundaries. For example, there are few board viable positions that can surprise a chess grand master. She doesn’t have to logic out a position because she’s seen it before and knows what the possibilities are. She will say “Alekhine vs Yates, 1910, queen’s gambit declined” and you just know that you are toast.

      The other kind of expert is trying to extrapolate into unknown territory. This expert is making predictions and his superior knowledge often makes him a worse predictor than non-experts.

      Scientists who offer prescriptions are usually closer to the extrapolating experts than the performing experts. Science is in sad shape these days. How bad? In most cases medical research can not be replicated. A lot of the time it can’t even be replicated by the original authors. link That’s not performance.

      There is a phenomenon known as expert overclaiming. This is where experts claim to know things that are impossible to know. It’s pervasive. They are smart and knowledgeable but not as much as they think they are.

      There should be punishment for bad predictions and bad advice. Paul Ehrlich should have served jail time as an example for other prognosticators. Sadly, there are no consequences for failed predictions and bad advice. The perpetrators just claim that they weren’t really wrong and go on to greater glory. Policy makers take them seriously and we all suffer.

      • So Dunning is re-inventing the Dunning Kruger effect? (your link).
        I bet the good professor would be apoplectic if he realized someone would dare apply his renamed theory (now “expert-overclaiming”) to climate scientists.

    • It astounds me how absolutely clueless these authors are about how actual people make decisions in the real world. Do you know why energy companies use the oil and gas they produce from the field in question to power their extended secondary and tertiary recovery efforts in the field?

      BECAUSE THEY”RE ALREADY PRODUCING THAT OIL AND GAS RIGHT THERE, SO TO THEM THE COST OF THAT ENERGY IS MINIMAL. You idiots.

      These “authors” are trying to say “hey you guys shouldn’t use that energy which you already got for free, instead you should use this energy you have to pay a whole lot more to get onsite, yeah and we promise you’ll make money that way.” No one except Jerry Brown and his minions could read this without a facepalm or two.

  5. RE: “Done right, such solutions could end up being a win-win for industry and the environment, the Stanford scientists said, by helping oil companies drive down energy costs while simultaneously reducing their climate impacts.”

    Well golly…. Oil companies can drive their energy costs and ‘climate impacts’ (??) all the way down to zero now. Don’t drill, pump, or refine any oil! And I’m confident that is the ‘win-win’ scenario these CARB-embedded tools are really seeking.

  6. Gosh whoda thunk? That there’s less oil in a reservoir once you’ve pumped it for years? And that it’s harder to get the remaining oil out?

    Golly gee whiz! I was absolutely convinced that it was the other way around! That grad student should get his PhD for this tremendous discovery!

    (do I really need that /sarc tag?)

  7. This is how informed people think about petroleum, ole, that is. :)


    (youtube — theme from “The Beverly Hillbillies”)

    Yep, Mr. Masnadi. There is more useful information in that little video than in your paper.

    And listening to it put me in a much better mood.

    Fits with summertime (here in western Washington State — where we treasure greatly every single sunny day), for it was only during the summer that I was home in the mid-mornings…. after sleeping in….. sitting there in front of the TV, eating my bowl of Rice Checks with sugar on top, soaked just-long-enough-to-get-chewy …. or Coco Puffs…. or Lucky Charms or Trix….. Sigh. Those were the days.

    • Thats a nice blast from the past.
      Now, look at the video at 0:29 in. The vehicle is just pulling away, showing a look at the porch of the house behind.
      What is that animal standing at the porch?
      That looks like a mature western mule deer.
      They are very skittish, even when tame, and would be difficult to get on film.
      In any event, the people who did that video clip, short as it is, had way more going on than 100 kids with computer generated graphic explosions, plane crashes, and planet wrecking catastrophes.

    • Exactly. Redrilling and fracking existing holes is the big thing in the Permian Basin now. That is a “super giant oilfield” that has been producing for more than a century and is now yielding well over 1.5 million barrels per day and will probably top 2 million soon.

  8. More flaring is done during initial production than secondary or later recovery. When a pump is used, it is sized to the flow rate. Pumps are positive displacement reciprocating devices so energy consumption is simply the product of flow rate and lift height.

    Only wells located close to electric utilities are driven with electric motors. Some natural gas powered units are used where natural gas is coproduced.

    Solar is already used in some areas to operate SCADA electronics when internal combustion engines drive pumpjacks. But to run a 40 HP motor? Footprint of the pads would require hundreds of acres all for a tiny ROI.

  9. These authors must be giggling at having gotten money for “discovering” what is obvious to any oil field manager or operator. What a travesty!

  10. When I read this, I knew it was all downhill from there on.
    “It then uses computer models to calculate how much energy is consumed during each step. From this, scientists can calculate precisely how much greenhouse gas each oilfield emits.”

    Not a word about model verification-i.e. is the model making he calculations correctly when you check it step by step. Verified if the models make the desired calculations correct over all possible inputs, again at the limits, the mean, range over all the available data, etc.
    And nothing about model validation-i.e. an analyses of how well model simulations reproduce features of observed data. And the observed data represent a wide range of geographical and well field characteristics. In other words, are the models valid? Do they reproduce what happens in nature?
    We are asked to take the models as representing natural processes without an iota of real world support for the models.

    • Companies have been operating oil fields for 100 years. There is no need to model energy requirements, the data exists.
      The fact that they used models rather than working with the oil companies to get and use real data, just shows that the authors weren’t serious in the first place.

  11. All this study proves is that Stanford PhDs aren’t as bright as Stanford’s reputation might otherwise suggest. Comparing the marginal cost of a next incremental quantity of oil from an existing facility to the cost of past oil drilled from that facility is simply not relevant to the issue they have identified. What you need to do is compare the cost of drilling for the remaining oil from that facility to the cost of getting that oil from a new facility that would have to be built from scratch. After all, we need to get the oil to feed our gasoline consumption from somewhere – that demand isn’t going to just go away if you arbitrarily stop drilling at an existing facility before the oil is depleted .

    It never seemed to occur to these “scientists” that there is an opportunity cost to leaving oil in the ground that you know is there to be drilled at an existing facility, and accounting for those opportunity costs. Although I suppose you can’t expect these fools to understand the concept of opportunity costs if they are just getting their heads around the law of diminishing returns.

    Nor do they seem to have accounted for the climate costs of constructing new “clean” power sources to supply the energy to the replace the fossil fuel plants currently providing that energy – or do they believe in the Ponzi-logic that you can achieve a real benefit just by shifting existing generation around among energy consumers?

    The stupidity of this study should embarrass the authors.

    • I’ve seen this a few times, and it’s hilarious.
      Big guy winds up and delivers a big kick to the door, leaning in to give extra power to the kick.
      Door, not being latched bounces away with little resistance.
      Because he didn’t meet the resistance he was braced for, big guy ends up stumbling through the doorway.
      Right about this time, the door hits the wall and bounces back. Slamming into the big guy who’s in the process of stumbling through the door, knocking said big guy onto his ass.

  12. The study states:
    “As oilfields run low, emissions per unit of oil increase. This should be accounted for in future modeling efforts.”

    Everyone in the oil business knows that the first sentence is true – it is obvious. The second sentence is simply trivial.

    Circa 1997, I played a small part in the acquisition of the super-giant Karachaganak gas-condensate field in Kazakhstan.

    I flew to London on a Friday and the meeting was already in progress. Got my instructions, and flew into Kaz on a Tuesday via charter from Stanstead. The field camp was built by the Bulgarians and had steel water pipes, so the water was red with rust particles.

    The water was also reportedly bacteria-laden and radioactive, so I tried to learn to close my ears and nostrils on command. I doubt the water was radioactive – this rumour probably came from the six nukes exploded at/near the field during the Cold War. Remember the USA’s Project Plowshare, “peaceful use of the atom”? Well the Soviets had one too.

    I sorted the problem, and was picked up at 2 am by my driver who spoke no English. We drove to Orenburg just across the border in Russia. One border crossing and about five police checkpoints followed, and we arrived at sunup. I hate the equation where I’m the only guy with lots of cash and no gun, and everyone else has lots of guns and no cash. Entered the VIP lounge at Orenburg airport. This stunning Russian super-model with about five very serious bodyguards swept into the lounge – Note to file: Not a good idea to open a conversation. Flew Orenburg Airlines (an Ilushyn or something) to Moscow. Love those Russian-built airplanes, with the bald tires and all the tire cords sticking out so they look fuzzy.

    Had lunch at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow with my friend Nik and his family. Waiting for them, I wandered down a side hall just as the Security door opened – racks of dozens of assault rifles covered the wall, and ex-military types were seated in the room. It’s comforting to know that you are safe at lunch.

    I flew back to London on British Air. Looking out the window of our plane, another plane flashed by just a few hundred metres off – a near-miss. I presented my report on Monday morning, typed and with photos. I think the deal closed soon thereafter.

    Returned to Calgary and slept for a few days – was wakened by the news that Lady Di had been killed in Paris. Dodi Fayed was buried in Woking. I’ve been to London scores of times, but had just visited Woking for the first time the week before, to visit my friend Talaal and his family. Watched Lady Di’s funeral procession move from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey, and realized I had walked the exact same route just the week before, starting from my friend Paul’s place near the palace. This was getting weird. I had missed several nights of sleep and wondered if all this was real or not – sadly, it was.

  13. Below (item 3) is the final (I hope) chapter of the Lexin/Mazeppa sour gas fiasco.

    1. Here is an article published Monday 24Apr2017 by CBC re the very dangerous Mazeppa sour gas situation that I reported last year to the AER. One error in the article – H2S is instantly lethal at 0.1% concentration, and the field runs up to 40% H2S. There would be no time to evacuate or to flare the leak. The full risk to the public is still not understood – the wells are about 1 mile from major SE suburbs – in a major sour gas discharge, tens of thousands of Calgarians could have been killed.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/lexin-resources-what-went-wrong-1.4038838

    2. Here is the second article, published Tuesday 25Apr2017 on the financial fallout from the Lexin fiasco.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/lexin-resources-cost-to-albertans-1.4068321

    3. Epilogue: “In reversal, Lexin admits to breaking environmental, industry rules”
    http://calgaryherald.com/business/energy/lexin-agrees-it-breached-environmental-industry-rules

    Regards, Allan

  14. From and SOTBO (Statement of the Bleeding Obvious) opener, the article manages to stretch very little real content into some 1000 words. I wonder what was the cost of producing this ‘enlightening’ drivel.
    While coming up with assertions that the amount of energy required to produce a barrel of oil can double over the life of the operation, there is no mention of the actual amount of energy consumed at either end of operating life. Without such information, it is pointless to talk about potential (or speculative) environmental impact.

  15. “the scientists found that for many of the super-giant oilfields, oil production declined with time as the wells were depleted”

    Nobel price class research! Nobody has ever suspected this before.

  16. “How to stop this harmful cycle? One way is through tougher government regulations that force companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or risk having to lower production. ”

    What I take from this is that the government is willing to pay for studies from which the conclusion is always to give more power to the government to regulate. Those studies that start from another conclusion don’t get funded.

    • Might make a senior thesis for someone. This is why we need to defund more government studies and cut taxes more…

      Reminds me of the 70s rackets. One of those CFR darling Ivy League profs was going on about all the looming resource shortages we faced and the lack of discoveries. He used mercury as an example, claimed it as a strategic metal, how little discovery of new mercury reserves over the last 20+ years had occurred…

      I had recently read an article about the mercury industry in Forbes or Fortune, how there were over 100 years of reserves…
      As for strategic metal, given all the enviromental mercury bans, that’s pretty close to a belly laugh now.

  17. “The more oil that is extracted, the more difficult it becomes to extract the oil that remains, so companies have to resort to increasingly energy-intensive recovery methods, such as water, steam or gas flooding,”

    Rather odd that he doesn’t mention that the gas pumped down into the ground is CO2……

  18. Astounding duplicate prose. “As (fill in appropriate bogeyman here) gets worse…..

  19. Failing to take the changing energy requirements of oilfields into account can cause oilfield managers or policymakers to underestimate the true climate impacts, Stanford scientists warn.

    100% unmitigated horse schist. The job of “oilfield managers” is to maximize the profitability of oilfields… PERIOD. Safely operating the field is crucial to profitability… Profitability is measured in $$$, not units of energy.

    Managing imaginary, mythical and/or fraudulent “true climate impacts” is not part of their jobs.

  20. Surprise surprise, their solution is to force the companies to leave the oil in the ground through regulations or to make it so expensive they won’t bring it up. Of course, everyone knows that is true real objective anyways as switching to windmills for energy to recover the oil would have no impact on global warming.

  21. When someone is obsessed with a hammer their intelligence drops until they see only nails.

  22. “…a new software tool…for calculating greenhouse gas emissions…”

    I stopped reading right there. We have already seen that any model can be tuned to achieve the desired predetermined result.

    • You should have kept on reading—-Oil Production Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator (OPGEE). It has already been adopted by the California Air Resources Board to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels. Wonder what they put on their trucks?

      Which determined—-“The more oil that is extracted, the more difficult it becomes to extract the oil that remains, so companies have to resort to increasingly energy-intensive recovery methods, such as water, steam or gas flooding.”

      Perhaps this is relevant as the information comes from the American Association for the Advancement of Science

      “Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.” And they wonder why they have a “perception” problem? Probably the same guys who think you can put wind and other types of generated energy in one end and separate them at the other end.

    • Solar power has a lot of uses in oil fields. Meters and other low-power instruments are often solar powered.

      Many, if not most, platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are natural gas-powered. Drilling rigs are usually diesel-powered.

      Drilling rigs and production platforms operate 24/7/365. Solar panels would just occupy valuable deck space, already crowded with essential machinery and modules.

    • Griff,

      The Oman project doesn’t reduce GHG emissions…

      Solar EOR will free gas for economic growth

      GlassPoint partnered with Petroleum Development Oman, the country’s largest oil and gas producer, to build the Middle East’s first solar EOR project. The pilot system has been operating successfully since late 2012, proving GlassPoint’s solar EOR solution is a viable alternative to burning natural gas for steam in Oman.

      By using solar to generate steam, Oman can save up to 80% of the gas currently used for EOR. The gas saved can be exported as LNG, boosting Oman’s export revenue, or as power and feedstock for new factories, generating jobs and diversifying the local economy.

      Instead of burning the gas steam injection in Oman, they are exporting it or burning it in Oman for other purposes.

      This is one of the few actually logical uses of solar power I have ever seen, Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be workable anywhere where there isn’t a whole lot of land available…

      I haven’t found a source stating the area that the solar panels cover; but a 7 MW natural gas-fired power plant would take up a fraction of the space.

      In places like the desert, this is a good idea. Glasspoint is also working on a 1 GW thermal solar plant in Oman… Enabling the sultanate to produce and sell more oil and natural gas… An actual win-win-win.

      https://www.glasspoint.com/markets/oman/

      • In that part of the world PEAK midday summer insolation is probably around 2-3Kw/sq meter of panel.
        At night, not so much.

      • I think you owe me at least a credit for your follow up article!

        And if it saves 80% of the gas used in EOR, its saves the CO2 from 80% of that gas.

        They are going to extract the oil anyway, is my view.

        I don’t know that space taken up by solar is generally an issue: there are lots of places to put it apart from deset – lakes, reservoirs, roofs, the sea near shore, over railways and irrigation canals, concrete on airfields, old coal mine spoil heaps, polluted ex-soviet military training areas and former open cast uranium mines are all sites I know of. Also if on arable land can be grazed or used to keep chickens on (that’s the case in the UK anyway)

        and if you have a desert low tech solar CSP like Morocco and solar PV are excellent uses for your patch of sand
        https://cleantechnica.com/2017/05/10/oman-signs-agreement-1-gigawatt-solar-project/

      • I do owe you credit… And I meant to do so. I will edit the post immediately.

        The gas will be burned or consumed somewhere else and more oil will be produced and consumed… It’s a win-win-win.

      • Hi David, you wrote:
        “This is one of the few actually logical uses of solar power I have ever seen, Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be workable anywhere where there isn’t a whole lot of land available…”

        Questions:
        Is it really economic? That is a huge and costly solar facility to offset a small gas=powered steam plant.
        Does the energy input to create this plant equal or exceed its lifetime output?
        Will it work in places where is less sun and more clouds.
        How about locations where hailstorms are common, like Alberta?

        I think a saline solar pond might work better and cheaper in more locations.

        Best, Allan

    • It’s people like you that result in beautiful areas being destroyed by greedy wind and solar companies. It’s people like you who destroy retirement plans when the Chinese and Venezuelans are given 98,000 acres of public land to destroy with wind plants. It’s people like you that destroy hunting and fishing opportunities. It’s people like you who care NOTHING about anyone but yourself. You hate humanity and want it punished. You are succeeding. Be happy—you now are on my “vile, greedy, selfish beings” list for damning people to live under your regime. I loathe you more each hour.

      • Griff and his fellow trolls don’t care how many people are killed. They have a planet to save.

      • Another empty retort from MarkW. What is it now, Mark, 10,000 posts without a single supporting link?

      • Nobody is killed and nothing is destroyed…

        and I would note the majority of wind and solar projects in Germany are owned by ordinary citizens and not power companies.

        (and to be honest Mark, he does have a point -you could counter my arguments with evidence and links instead of assertions)

      • Billionaires own the US wind plants—Buffet, Duke Energy, Nextra, and now China and Venezuela. I’m happy you approve of making the rich richer, Griff. I would have erroneously pegged you as socialist who wanted “fairness” above all. I had no idea you adored oil companies and people who got rich off oil. Congrats—you at least are with the skeptics on their love for the fossil fuel industry.

        To quake in one’s boots, one must have moral compass. There’s not a lot of evidence of that.

        Griff loves Griff. That’s all. It’s actually quite common among the enviros. They love themselves. No one else. You can’t fix selfishness and greed. You just can’t. Karma might, but people can’t.

      • Sheri, first I am not Griff. Second, about my quaking in their boots comment. Your comments about how destructive environmentally solar and wind is compared to fossil fuels is ludicrous. Below, I posted a link that shows that coal, for example, uses more land than solar. It is here: http://grist.org/article/2010-11-17-which-has-bigger-footprint-coal-plant-or-solar-farm/

        The footprint of wind turbines is quite small. Yes, I am sure you call it a visual blight. Then why don’t you call out the 10s of thousands of oil rigs that dot US states for visual blight?

        As far as your comments on billionaires – give me a break. The Koch brothers, who made their money in oil and gas, are worth $50B each. T Boone Pickens is a billionaire, as are many others. Same in coal, though on a smaller scale. Here’s a list of the owners of the largest wind farms in the US. It’s a bunch of companies. So how is that any different from the oil and gas sector?

  23. Yeah they tried to force companies in the oil sands. One after another the companies picked up and left, taking billions of investment with them. To places like Iran who has a better investment climate, than the communists who run Alberta.

  24. The study is incredibly naive, it also shows the authors don’t know much about what they discuss. Which in turn tells me that particular university needs better professors.

  25. So nice of these “scientists” to offer to “help” oil companies. Just think how much “help” they could be to farmers, and indeed all industry, government, etc. What would we do without them?

    • We would be starving, living in shanties, unable to afford heat if they “helped” farmers and all industry.

      • Wrong. Ask farmers how much they work with and value extension agents from land grant universities. Or new varieties of crops, such drought resistant strains of wheat, corn, etc, and strains more resistant to pests.

  26. When do we get the cradle to grave counts on wind and solar. From the first shovel of dirt mining for copper, rare earths, etc to the installation and maintenance, to decomissioning in the cases where the turbines aren’t left to rust, leak fluid and fall in place (all that needs to be counted too). After I see an honest accounting of this, maybe I’ll care about a political accounting of oil costs.

    • Well Sheri, google is your friend there.

      Not difficult to see how wind and solar must have decommissioning plans in place before they get approved or see news account of the first offshore wind farm being dismantled after end of its designed life (In the UK/EU at least we require whole life/decommission planning: I can’t say I know if US states, for example, do that basic thing).

      you can also see how they save more CO2 in their lifespan than in whole build to decomm…

      • Oil companies had decommissioning plans in place—that’s why there are 1200 uncapped wells in Wyoming that the state will pay to cap. I can’t see wind being any different. You can’t get blood from a turnip, though as an enviro, you might believe that. Trust me, you can’t.

        Google is not my friend. My enemy, yes. I don’t need to google the myth of decommissioning. I have heard the lies over and over and over from the wind plants billionaires.

        Turbines save NO CO2. People who believe in perpetual motion machines never really get that. If only they understood science, they would see how stupid energy from weather really is. As often stated, unicorn flatulence would work equally well.

      • “If only they understood science, they would see how stupid energy from weather really is. As often stated, unicorn flatulence would work equally well.”

        So I guess you are saying that hydroelectric power is really stupid.

      • ” If only they understood science, they would see how stupid energy from weather really is”
        ..
        Correct me if I am wrong Sheri, but isn’t it “weather” that causes rain to fall behind a hydroelectric dam?
        ..

      • David,

        I don’t think it’s an accurate belief that rivers are created from rainfall run-off. In fact, I think it’s fairly easily falsified. Maybe a percentage of the flow is from rainfall, i.e. weather, but certainly not the bulk. So, I really don’t think we can say that hydro-electric is from weather.

        rip

      • ripshin, if the source of the water that flows through a hydroelectric dam is not weather, then what is it?

      • Rain replenishes groundwater, which keeps rivers flowing from springs long after rain runoff has ceased.

    • Oh, and it’s quite interesting that Sheri criticized wind and solar, but said nothing about coal. Gee, perhaps that is because the coal industry has an abysmal environmental record – and it’s land footprint is larger than that for solar. It’s not just things like mountaintop removal, which thanks to Trump is now perfectly legal. It’s also strip mining and open pit mining. And no, most of the time the coal companies do not restore the land to a pre mining state: “In the West, during the decade 1996 to 2005, only one acre out of every 17 acres disturbed by mining emerged successfully from the regulatory bonding process, which ends with successful recontouring, establishment of vegetation, and restoration of aquifers. In some states, the record was even worse. In Wyoming, only one acre out of every 555 mined was reclaimed; in Montana, only one acre out of every 735. In Central Appalachia, the results are similarly dismal: According to the Appalachian Voices study, after decades of mountaintop-removal mining, 89.3 percent of MTR mining sites still show no post-mining economic development.”
      http://grist.org/article/2010-11-17-which-has-bigger-footprint-coal-plant-or-solar-farm/

    • I would just add that we’ve already been through this once before with “too cheap to meter” promises for nuclear power. What we learned is that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is still valid. Things fall apart. Maintenance and upkeep are significant drivers to the cost of power production. The successful technologies find ways to minimize O&M as a percentage of generating costs. That’s how nuclear stayed in the game. As the replacement, repair, and maintenance costs approach the initial costs of installation, however…well, that’s when you have a problem.

      rip

  27. So amount of energy to extract oil goes up with time?

    No! whoda thunk it? I thought that it just kept coming and coming like mick jagger on cocaine until you had to use energy to stop it!

    File Under: Expensive waste of time, Bleedin obvious, Junk

  28. Gee, I wonder what the energy costs are for aging cities and those cities around Stanford that force the population out to extreme commutes with absurd building permit costs, regulations, and price escalation.

  29. I just drove through windmill country in western Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, and eastern New Mexico. I wonder what that landscape will look like in another 10 years.

    • On July 1, of this year, the Oklahoma governor signed a law doing away with windmill subsidies. It seems what started out in 2001 as subsidies of a few millions dollars annually has risen over the years to over $100 million annually and could go into the billions if this law wasn’t signed.

      So I guess we’ll see how windmill farms will fare in Oklahoma with no subsidies from the State of Oklahoma.

      Current windfarms will continue to receive the subsidies for the next ten years, but no new windmill farms will get subsidies.

      Windmill Farms are putting a serious dent in Oklahoma’s state budget.

  30. The climate extremists are reducing humanity to a CO2 equation whose solution is the elimination of humanity.
    Watch out. They are going the way of German eugenicists.

  31. Am I to assume that companies that have been managing oil fields for over 100 years, haven’t noticed prior to the existence of this “study”, that as oil fields age, it takes more effort to get the remaining oil?

  32. The Stanford study and all similar studies begin with the premise that climate change is human-induced and due to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The premise itself is the issue in question. Until that issue is resolved, studies of greenhouse gas emissions are pointless and a waste of resources. Why was the study even funded. Might as well measure cow emissions as a function of age..

    Some physicists (most recently President Rosenbaum of Caltech) now posit that nature cannot be modeled with Newtonian physics but possibly might be modeled with quantum physics. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in December 2016 predicted a century of non-warming in which CO2 does not play a significant role. CERN concludes that climate models used by the United Nations Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to estimate future temperatures are too high and that the models should be redone. The CERN models are driven by quantum physics.

    Focusing research on GHG emissions is the wrong research, and policies stemming from that research are the wrong policies. Get the science right first, and the right policies might follow. Make America right again!

    • That issue is not in question…

      clearly CO2 levels are rising and isotopes show that CO2 is from human activity.

      clearly temperature series show a rise in temps globally and long established physics show CO2 drives temp rises.

      there may be some scope for argument in the impact of future predictions and for an outright row over whether the models work, but current climate change is human-induced and due to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

      • Have you apologised to Dr. Crockford for lying about her professional qualifications yet Skanky, you misogynist little p1mp for the likes of ‘Sir’ Reg Sheffield?

  33. Are the metrics of applying greater energy inputs at the end of life cycle of a super giant oilfield also applied to PV & wind? As PV ages, the cell conversion efficiency drops. As a wind farm ages, it requires more maintenance. As a result of this, the PV installation needs more fossil fuels to back up the grid capacity as it ages. Similar, yet more indirect issues will affect wind farms.

  34. This article advances the cause by counting the energy used to get energy from the ground twice.

  35. All that work to prove that oilfields follow an economic supply curve – just like everything else…

    Next up, a study proving that water is wet. Why can’t I ever find a job like that?

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